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  1. #1
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    Default TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

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    So I've branched out and started collecting women's perfumes. It started with checking out the sister version of Gucci Guilty Absolute, since the men's version was so outside-the-box, retro in a way, and addictive. I wondered what the women's version smelled like. It turns out, nothing like the men's, but it also seem to harken back to retro sensibilities. Floral, formal, but still enough of a twist to fit in with modern sensibilities. If I had money to burn I'd buy a bottle it just to have. In the meantime, what other scent experiences was I missing out on?

    After reading about some classic perfumes I learned about Tabu by Dana, and I was intrigued. A classic from 1932 that supposedly was designed to be a fragrance that a prostitute would wear. I've heard that it's very skanky as well. So I had to sample this eventually. Some drugstores have this as cheap as $17.99. But that's for a reformulation, and we all know how classics can get butchered and cheapened.

    Anyways, I just recently came across a vintage bottle for cheap. I took off the cap and sniffed the atomizer and damn...

    This is potent stuff!
    It's not quite what I imagined. I was expecting something very heavy, and spicy. Maybe a long the lines of CK Obsession. I don't want to look up the notes or deconstruct it because I don't want to ruin the mystique. All I can say is that it smells very luxurious and sexy.

    I was a little concerned that it would remind me of my great aunt or grandma. And some women's fragrances do have that effect, exceptionally old Avon perfumes for example. But thankfully, not this one. It's not a modern scent at all, but I imagined a Janice Dickinson in her prime, or Gia Carangi wearing this, with a shoulder padded elegant designer dress and high heels, and it made sense.

    I don't have too much experience with classic women's fragrances but just prior I sampled Chanel No 5. Of the two, I find Tabu to be the more enjoyable scent. Just very sexy, elegant, and bold without becoming overbearing.

    I figured since this is such a classic fragrance that would have been marketed throughout the decades, how was it marketed in the 70s and 80s? What super models were the face of the fragrance, what approach did Dana use for it. After some googling I'm coming up with nothing. Most of the ads are from the 50s and 60s, and almost all of them are in black and white and seem stuck in looking antique and extremely classical.

    Was this scent popular in the 1970s and 1980s? Just by how it smells to me, I could easily imagine Nagel-esque women in either black dresses or power suits wearing this.

    As far as the presentation is concerned, I kind of prefer the most recent, art deco-styled bottle as it skews, ironically, a little more modern. But the curves and black and gold coloring of the vintage bottle seem to match the scent better.

    Anyways, this is a seriously exceptional scent and I'm definitely gifting this to someone special down the road.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    I remember it being advertised a lot.

    Great notes. Thank you for sharing them.
    FYI: I spray all fragrances on clothing, never on skin.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    Indeed, Tabu is one of the big ones-complex, rich, lots of stuff in it.

    I think you have the edt or edc-there is also a parfum concentration (not too common, but not impossible to find at reasonable prices), in a small rectangular bottle, and as usual the parfum is stronger and more intense (as if this needed).

    I vaguely remember ads with a violinist, and some bottles are still violin shaped.

    caci

  4. #4
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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    A very interesting read! I love Tabu.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    One of my all-time favorites. Vintage extrait is marvelous. Tabu was very popular when I was a young woman in the 70s and 70s.

  6. #6

    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    Thank you for the recommendation.
    While admitting to not having tested this fragrance yet, having still had very positive and joyful experiences with many vintage releases by this house for either gender, fairly eager to asap test/sample this one.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    also Aromatics Elixir is really, really good and similarly available in quite old versions for relatively little money...and they are to me anyway quite unisex...
    FYI: I spray all fragrances on clothing, never on skin.

  8. #8

    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    This was a very famous Tabu ad that went on for decades.

    ​"It was foolish of her not to have bought a larger bottle."

    Dorothy Eden, The Time of the Dragon

  9. #9
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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    That advertisement was from a painting of a scene from a Tolstoy novel, right? I've seen some variations of it, including the one where there's an illustration of a woman looking at that painting.

    Here's a couple that I like. The time period of the first is unknown to me. The second says it's from the 90s, probably early 90s.

    tabu ads.jpg

    The first one is the type of woman I see wearing it. The second gets a little dirty while still trying to maintain some sense of sophistication by having it literally be "artistic." I think it's exceptional because it's a homage to the original ad without having the actual painting or any violins in the picture. Plus, it is clearly a modern setting, which is refreshing.

    And I found an ad from the 1960s featuring my bottle. Apparently there were other Dana fragrances in this bottle design but different colored: teal, pink, etc. Pretty cool. There are SO many different bottle designs for this.



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e41EPCXK7TE

    Okay, this is what I'm talking about. The commercial is from 1980, and yep, the whole scene lines up fairly close to my idea of the fragrance.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    So glad you are enjoying your bottle of vintage Tabu, Hugh. My sense is that Tabu’s heyday was the 1940’s-60’s. It certainly wasn’t on my radar when I was growing up in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, but its spicy musky descendants Opium and Obsession were everywhere.


    Every so often I conduct another test of Tabu, just to see if I can wear it. There is something elusive in Tabu that doesn’t suit me, and I have been trying to figure it out what it is for some time. I think it is the strong contrast between the medicinal sassafras note and the cooking spices (cinnamon, clove) with the bold animalic muskiness. Inspired by you, I wore some of the vintage extrait yesterday, and I really enjoyed it. The extract was smoother, and I did not perceive the discord of sweet, bitter, and musky notes that I get in the vintage cologne.


    Have you tried vintage Youth Dew bath oil, or Bal a Versailles yet? I think you might like those too. Or vintage Lelong Indiscret (1936), also by Carles, more floral, less musky, but just as spicy.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    And, oh yes, Tabu definitely ran the best ads. How about this one from 1973? Such cool flared pants!

    IMG_3382.JPG

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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    So glad you are enjoying your bottle of vintage Tabu, Hugh. My sense is that Tabu’s heyday was the 1940’s-60’s. It certainly wasn’t on my radar when I was growing up in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, but its spicy musky descendants Opium and Obsession were everywhere.
    Okay, that sense about its peak. And I really like Opium and can see the connection.

    Have you tried vintage Youth Dew bath oil, or Bal a Versailles yet? I think you might like those too. Or vintage Lelong Indiscret (1936), also by Carles, more floral, less musky, but just as spicy.
    I haven't. I have tried very few classics and at one point under the impression that anything pre-1980 would smell too old fashioned to me. I'm glad to find out that's not the case.
    I was wondering, "Why the Youth Dew bath oil and not the EDP?" After some research I understand why. Plus the bottle is nicer looking.
    I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the other two when I go out shopping.


    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    And, oh yes, Tabu definitely ran the best ads. How about this one from 1973? Such cool flared pants!

    IMG_3382.JPG
    Okay, that is a great one.

  13. #13

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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    Yes, the bath oil is more concentrated and has remained closer to the original, so I think it's ok in current form. Since it's not expensive, one can get that to see if one likes the perfume. If not, one can still used it for its intended purpose (for instance, I mix the oil with unscented shower gel, great in the winter). The alcohol version, while good, has been toned down.
    Note however that oils degrade faster, as alcohol acts as a preservative, so I am always wary of buying vintage oils, no matter how cheap, because it is likely it is off.

    cacio

  14. #14

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    Default Re: TABU by Dana, first impression, and the 1980s

    What a great scent--I can smell it now in my mind. The mother of a friend of mine wore it as her signature scent and everything around her smelled of Tabu--even her Scottish Terrier! When she went, they put a bottle of Tabu in her coffin--she never went anywhere without it.
    Very clearly a case for corn flakes and classics
    Currently wearing: Leather Essence by Ferrari




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